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David Poland

By David Poland

For The Valkyrie Record…

I just want to make clear that while this blog is mentioned in the New York Times story on Valkyrie, I have nothing to do with Defamer’s further take that UA is dead because of this film or with any of that incompetent, for-sale idiot Roger Friedman’s blubbering about the movie.
There is one reason why, in spite of many people wanting me to go negative on the film, I finally wrote that “Valkyrie is dead.” Two moves and the date they settled on.
UA will tell you that they love President’s Day Weekend and that they have more open space there and that the fall is a graveyard. Great.
Meanwhile, I don’t understand how the NYT let them off the hook by using two mid-September releases as “the period” that Valkyrie was scheduled for… because Valkyrie was scheduled for October, not September, which is where Academy Award nominee Michael Clayton was released in 2007 and Oscar winner The Departed was released in 2006.
But I digress…
I don’t care whether the footage that’s been seen so far look mediocre or even bad. I am happy to let a movie become a movie. Or a studio become a studio.
I have nothing against Cruise (whose nomination for Magnolia I called for immediately and who I have said repeatedly deserved the Oscar for Born on the Fourth of July) or Singer (being a fan of all of his work until Superman Returns) or UA.
And yes, nobody knows anything.
But the fact remains, a move from summer to fall to winter (particularly February) has never boded well. And in recent years, the movies that have “died” under those circumstances include Jumper, The Other Boleyn Girl, Charlie Bartlett, The Astronaut Farmer, and Freedomland.
Moreover, the entire list of $100 million grossers that have opened in February in the last ten years consists of Ghost Rider, Hitch, The Passion of the Christ, 50 First Dates, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Daredevil, and Hannibal. 3 Romantic Comedies, 2 Comic Book movies, a horror sequel, and a once-in-a-20-years-phenom starring Jesus Christ. Do you see anything close to Valkyrie?
But anything can happen. Good luck to them. If the trailer that finally lands is brilliant, the movie will open. And if the movie is great, it will find an audience… even if it is unlikely to find a huge one in that slot.
Early buzz didn’t make Snakes on a Plane massive or bury any number of crap films, including the horrible Batman & Robin, which had what was then a sixth-best ever opening with $42.8 million.
I just wanted to say, I would never make any of the silly, lazy reaches that The Inhuman Stain would. They are unfair and uninformed. But then again, what do you expect from a gossip columinst who works for a right-wing organization that stands against much of what he stands for and who “reports” what he is told to report?
PS – Do I need to point out that it was the NYT, not some blog, that “reported” on Tom Cruise’s cameo in Tropic Thunder as though it was news?
At least Cieply didn’t call me ” a blogger.”

39 Responses to “For The Valkyrie Record…”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, not trying to start a fight, just legitimately curious: Your last “Hot Button” column is dated February. The vast majority of what you’ve written lately for this website has been… well, for the Hot Blog. If you are not a blogger, what are you? Seriously. And why do you take “blogger” as an insult?

  2. LexG says:

    NEVER bet against Cruise.
    This movie will Claus Von Schanken-OWN your FUCKING ASS.
    That early trailer that was attached to LIONS FOR LAMBS owned the fuck out of half the movies released last year.
    This whole story is suspect.
    VALKYRIE will someday stand alongside DIRTY DOZEN, GREAT ESCAPE, WHERE EAGLES DARE, STALAG 17 and fucking PATTON.
    You think Cruise doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing? Singer will deliver a WORLD-CLASS, old-school EPIC that will make all the Johnny-Come-Naysayers rescind their position and PLEDGE THEIR ALLEGIANCE to Cruise ONCE AND FOR ALL.
    They could release this shit on January 3rd on like 870 screens and it would still FUCKING RULE because CRUISE NEVER LETS YOU DOWN.
    Plus isn’t that AWESOME, SMOKING-HOT CHICK from BLACK BOOK in this? I’d like to ZWAT her BOEK, if you know what I’m saying.

  3. LexG says:

    Speaking of Verhoeven, the early trailer had a cool SOLDIER OF ORANGE vibe to it.
    Another sure sign that this will be a FIVE-STAR masterpiece that will go down in history.
    Even if it actually tanks at the North American BO, like, who cares? Isn’t it well established that the average American doesn’t know shit about good movies?

  4. David Poland says:

    Same old story., Joe.
    I don’t care what anyone calls me… unless I feel that I am being called out with a perjorative. And the use of “blogger” by TM is mostly used that way.
    Of course, I have also been more than just a writer for the better a decade, editing one of the first movie websites for Time-Warner and for the last five years, editing and publishing a very well-read priavtely-held website with a staff of veteran writers… one of the very few. But that really isn’t the point.
    And of course, “at least he didn’t call me a blogger” was a throwaway at the end of a long story. Sorry to see that it’s what you felt was important enough to bring up.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    David — you put it in your own blog entry — er, excuse me, your own story, so I’m assuming you, too, thought it was important.
    Again: Seriously, I really don’t get where you’re coming from whenever you get your undies in a bunch if you’re referred to as a blogger. I mean, I do a lot of other things, but if someone calls me a blogger — like tonight at the Nashville Film Festival, where I was introed as such before I did an on-stage Q&A with Patricia Neal — I don’t act I’ve been called something dirty. For that matter, Andrew Sullivan doesn’t seem to get pissed when he’s referred to as a blogger. And he writes, like, books.

  6. scooterzz says:

    you really are a blogger……and that’s not a bad thing…it’s just a ‘blogger’ thing…..

  7. montrealkid says:

    I guess I’m not surprised that the NY Times failed to question UA’s spin that sequences to be shot this summer were already “scheduled”. Smells like coverage to pad a film that they have no idea what direction to go in yet.
    I will not be surprised if we start hearing reports in the fall about a battle for the “final cut”.

  8. doug r says:

    The only difference between writing and blogging is teh spelling.
    And the brilliant commenters :)

  9. R Scott R says:

    “what do you expect from a gossip columinst who works for a right-wing organization that stands against much of what he stands for . . .”
    Aside from the fact that you use right-wing as an epithet, what is it that Fox News stands against? What does Roger stand for?
    There are certainly enough left-wing organizations that stand for promoting something other than just reporting the news.
    They should just report and let us decide.

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    R Scott R, Fox News promoter. As if that channel merely reports and allows you to decide. I’m not arguing that there are not left-wing organizations out there, RSR, just that Fox News is hardly some neutral source. But you’re always good for a laugh, and I appreciate that in the morning.

  11. Nicol D says:

    What Fox news does, love ’em or hate ’em…is give you voices that are not traditionally heard on regular MSM news outlets.
    On most regular mainstream news outlets, hearing all sides usually translates to one commentator who is center left, one who is middle left and another who is extreme left.
    Fox saw that there was an opportunity to hear more voices…and the people agreed.
    They broke through the eltitist media wall that had been forged for decades.

  12. If you don’t wanna be known as a blogger then quit the blog, write for the Hot Button again and deal with people commenting via email. Otherwise… a blogger is a blogger is a blogger.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh no! There’s that word elitist again. Yes Fox News has been successful. But fair and balanced? Please.
    I watch a lot of CNN and MSNBC during the day Nicol, and your claim of commentators who are center left, middle left and extreme left isn’t accurate. Joe Scarborough gets like three hours every morning on MSNBC. CNN employs Glenn Beck (and just hired Tony Snow). It’s hardly nothing but left-wingers all day on those channels.

  14. Nicol D says:

    “It’s hardly nothing but left-wingers all day on those channels.”
    No, they always throw in a token member of the right to claim balance. But then again, Fox has token leftists. That doesn’t negate the point. And remember, when people talk bias they are not talking op-ed. Beck for example does op-ed. We are talking about how stories are reported on the news cycle as neutral.
    We know Beck is right-wing because he says so. I am talking about the anchors that are supposed to rep neutrality but do not.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    I gotcha Nicol. Do you watch a lot of CNN and MSNBC during the day? How do you think the anchors on those networks during the day report news with a left-wing bias? Like I said, that is when I watch them. I don’t watch them much in the evening. I can’t stand Beck, Grace, Abrams, etc.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    Nicol, just curious: have you ever seen the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism?

  17. brack says:

    who on Fox News is a lefty besides Colmes?

  18. Tofu says:

    I’ll read a blogger over the pieces of shit salad that call themselves reporters over at Fox, seven days of the week.

  19. Dr Wally says:

    Am i the only one who thinks that moving Valkyrie to February ’09 is a smart move that will actually help it’s commerical chances? Consider the evidence –
    2007 – a ticktocking conspiracy thriller that revolves around a botched assassination attempt opens in late Winter and does more business than most people expected (SHOOTER).
    2008 – a ticktocking conspiracy thriller that revolves around a botched assassination attempt opens in late Winter and does more business than most people expected (VANTAGE POINT).
    2009 – you can see where this is going.

  20. Nicol D says:

    Have you ever read Bias by Bernard Goldberg?
    For the record…I have only ever seen Fox once. It was banned in Canada by the CRTC up until only a few years ago and now it is only available on a digital pay package that I do not subscribe to.
    I know that most media is left wing biased not because I watch FOX, but because I read plenty of first hand documents and reports.
    Remember, I am in Canada where the CBC makes your PBS and NPR look like Republicanville.
    Dr. Wally
    A Tom Cruise vehicle will be expected to gross more than Shooter and Vantage Point. Those were moderate hits. If Valkyrie only grosses 70 million it will be a colossal failure for both he and Singer.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    “I read plenty of first hand documents and reports.”
    For example, for our collective educations?
    Also, is it not possible (I have no idea, just making the suggestion) that there’s a difference between the media of Canada vs. the United States? I would certainly expect Canada to have a more liberal everything.

  22. doug r says:

    C’mon, Nicol-are you really that dense, or just paid to be?
    Government paid propaganda is ILLEGAL.
    This story by the New York Times is just the latest shit to hit the fan.
    Faux News kept using ArmstrongWilliams and Oliver North…
    Awww, you’re just bating us, you’re probably just putting on like Rush

  23. Stella's Boy says:

    “I know that most media is left wing biased not because I watch FOX, but because I read plenty of first hand documents and reports.”
    Nicol, you have to admit that if someone made this exact same statement to support their claim that something had a right-wing bias, you would aggressively call them out on it and ask for better proof. You would ask them to get back to you with more substance. Do you believe everything you read? Where have you come across these documents and reports, and how do you know they are reliable? You have to do better than that Nicol. You have to meet your own standards.

  24. Cadavra says:

    Nicol, you’re living in a fantasy world. The average news-channel panel consists of three right-wingers, one alleged moderate who leans right of center, and one token liberal. MSNBC hauls a non-stop parade of wingers at us all day (save said token liberal, usualy Rachel Maddow) until 8:00, when Olbermann gets one hour to contradict everything that’s aired the preceding 23 hours.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    I also notice that CNN has leaned a lot more conservatively these days, but maybe that’s just because it seems like every time I turn it on, I see Lou Dobbs’ puffy face in front of an American flag background complaining about immigrants.

  26. Blackcloud says:

    I say we get rid of all the 8 p.m. blowhards: O’Reilly, Olberman, Dobbs.
    Dobbs isn’t conservative, he’s more a populist rabble rouser. I don’t see much ideology there. Then again, I change the channel at light speed when he comes on, so I may be mistaken.

  27. brack says:

    Olbermann, FTW.

  28. Cadavra says:

    Do you mean WTF? ‘Cause if not, I need a translation.

  29. FTW usually translates as “For The Win”.

  30. brack says:

    Yes, I like Olbermann’s show, as well as Dan Abrams’.

  31. Ben C says:

    I kind of can’t stand Olbermann.
    Regardless of whether or not I share his politics, his smug arrogance and self-righteousness are no more appealing than Bill O’Reilly’s.
    Even if we can all nod in agreement and moral outrage with what he says, fact is, he’s still adding to the problem.

  32. brack says:

    I whole-heartedly disagree.
    Olbermann is funny or his team writes some pretty hilarious stuff. I laugh quite a few times every time I watch. He’s actually kind to his guests.
    It’s not smug arrogance or self-righteousness if you are actually telling the truth.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    That’s what they all say.

  34. brack says:

    broad generalizations = epic fail.

  35. jeffmcm says:


  36. jeffmcm says:

    And scene.

  37. brack says:


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin